Huffpost Crime

2 Years In Solitary For DWI: Stephen Slevin Wins $22M Settlement

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Stevin Slevin was held in solitary confinement for two years on a DWI charge.
Stevin Slevin was held in solitary confinement for two years on a DWI charge.

A New Mexico man held in solitary confinement at a county prison for two years without a trial has won a $22 million suit for violations of his constitutional rights.

Stephen Slevin, 58, who was arrested in August 2005 and charged with driving while intoxicated, was allegedly thrown in a small padded cell in Dona Ana County until May 2007 -- without ever seeing a judge. This week, a jury in Santa Fe federal court awarded Slevin one of the largest federal civil rights settlements in history for illegal imprisonment, according to CNN.

'[Prison officials were] walking by me every day, watching me deteriorate," he told NBC-DFW. "Day after day after day, they did nothing, nothing at all, to get me any help."

He was finally released after 22 months when the charges against him were dropped.

An already mentally-ill Slevin told reporters that he suffered through inhumane conditions and lack of human contact or medical care at the facility. He even claims that he had to pull out his own tooth because he was denied access to a dentist, according to MSNBC.

Now Slevin suffers from post traumatic stress disorder and may have to take depression medication for the rest of his life. His lawsuit claims that he lost weight and suffered depression, bedsores, fungal problems and mental anguish during his confinement.

Details about why he was held for so long for a charge was never prosecuted -- and, 22 months later, dropped -- are still sketchy, as a county spokesman declined to comment while promising to appeal Slevin's award, according to Las Cruces Sun-News .

"There was a verdict against the county and we certainly plan to appeal it," county spokesman Jess Williams told the paper. "We feel we have a strong case, at multiple levels, to pursue the appeal."